Organizations are incorporating machines into a wider variety of their corporate IT environments. They're doing so primarily as a means of adapting to an ever-evolving world. Indeed, many organizations now look to a growing range of new devices and applications to boost business efficiency, increase speed, engender greater productivity, and enhance their agility. Each of these machines requires a unique identity to operate securely within the enterprise. As the number of these machine identities increases dramatically, so does the difficulty of managing and securing them
The challenges of managing these machine identities is compounded by their accelerated rate of adoption, which is slated to grow significantly in the coming years. Cisco's Visual Networking Index found that machines are increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 percent. That figure is nearly 10 times the corresponding CAGR for the world's human population (1.1%), and it eclipses the rate of growth for internet users at seven percent.
Cisco also found some notable findings with respect to IP traffic and machine-to-machine connections. In its Visual Networking Index, the American multinational technology conglomerate predicts that IP traffic is expected to increase with a CAGR of 24 percent between 2016 and 2021, at which point in time IP traffic per capita will reach 35GB per capita. Machine-to-machine connections will grow dramatically as a result of this surge in IP traffic. Indeed, Cisco forecasts that links between devices and applications will more than double to 13.7 billion between 2016 and 2021. Such growth will raise the number of IP-connected machines to more than three times the estimated human population (3.5 devices per one human being).
Machines aren't just increasing in number, either. They are also diversifying in nature. The Internet of Things has introduced new physical devices like sensors and actuators that generally transmit and do not store information. At the same time, the cloud has given rise to "virtual" machines, or software which emulates more traditional physical machines such as desktops and servers, while DevOps has accelerated the cloud with self-contained runtime environments known as containers that consist of individual modules called microservices.
The explosion in the number and type of machines creates exciting opportunities for organizations. However, it also creates risks. Organizations must be able to identify, authenticate, and secure all the machines as well as their communication with other machines across the IT environment. That's difficult when devices and applications converse across multiple network ecosystems.
Ultimately, organizations can't manage this process manually. The only way organizations can ensure secure machine-to-machine communication at machine speed is by automating the process of identifying and remediating the identities of their machines.